"Nobody likes to do it, but it has to be done." You've heard that before. This time, it applies to 26 documents that you should have all bundled up in a folder that trusted family members have access to (someplace where fire and water won't damage them). But first let's go over some details about what should be in that bundle.
- Your will: Some say not a copy, but the original, accompanied by instructions. Supplying everyone in your will a copy is also advised by others.
- A completed power of attorney form that your benefactors have access to, should you become rendered impaired.
- Complete list of loans you've made to others, and debts.
- Proof of ownership of the following if you have them: owned property/housing, vehicles, cemetery plots, savings bonds, stock certificates, brokerage/escrow mortgage accounts and partnership/corporate operating agreements.
- Last three years' of tax returns might seem excessive, but if you can, do it.
- Name of bank and phone number, account numbers, online login information
- Register a family member or spouse's name with the bank; have them sign the registration document to allow them access to your accounts.
- A list of safe deposit boxes if you have them
- Power of attorney form. If you become incapacited, who will make medical care decisions for you? This should also be IN your will.
- Choose your POA attorney while you're of sound mind.
- Have it spelled out how you'd like to be treated in the event of incapacitation (and this includes what should be done if you end up in a persistent vegetative state). Who pulls the plug?
Marriage & Divorce
- Does your spouse know where your marriage license is?
- If you're divorced, make sure there are documents spelling out child support, alimony and any property settlements and financial divisions. To avoid disputes, include bank account numbers for the appropriate settlements.
- Keep copies of life insurance documents.
- Last but not least is the qualified domestic-relations order, that can prove your spouse got a share of your retirement accounts.
- Family members should have copies of life insurance documents and contact information for the carrier.
In a Nutshell, the Top 26
- Marriage license
- Divorce papers
- Living will (what should be done if you're alive but incapacitated)
- Personal/family medical history
- Authorization to release medical care information
- Durable healthcare POA
- Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order
- Tax returns
- Housing, land and cemetery deeds
- Escrow mortgage accounts
- Proof of loans made and owed debts
- Titles for vehicles
- Stock certificates, savings bonds and brokerage accounts
- Partnerships and corporate operating agreements
- Life insurance policies
- Pension documents
- Annuity contracts
- Bank account list
- List of bank usernames and passwords
- Safe-deposit box list
- Letter of instruction for the will
- Trust documents
- Updated passwords document for all your critical accounts.
Do you have docs you think should be on this list? Please provide in the comments.
Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.
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